Atascadero man felt 'evil' coming from woman he's accused of killing, police say

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 30, 2013 

An Atascadero man diagnosed as a schizophrenic told police he felt an “evil” feeling coming from his neighbor last week before he drove to her house and gunned her down, according to a court document.

Mark Alan Andrews, 49, had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital in 2009, after he allegedly harassed a different neighbor, whom he believed was a vampire. While investigating that case, police found two lists of names in Andrews’ home, according to police reports, several of the names marked with the words “hate with death.”

Andrews briefly appeared in court Thursday for a Superior Court arraignment that was postponed. He is charged with murder in the death of his neighbor, Colleen Barga-Milbury. The 52-year-old woman was found dead — the victim of two rifle shots — in her home on May 22.

According to reports from the Atascadero Police Department, the following occurred in the alleged homicide:

During their investigation of the homicide, on May 24, police conducted surveillance of Andrews’ residence. During a traffic stop, Andrews consented to a search of his home. In his bedroom, investigators found a lever-action .30-30 rifle — often used for deer hunting — in a cabinet with several other firearms. Police, who had previously found an expended .30-30 shell casing near the deceased, also found a bag containing .30-30 cartridges and a single expended .30-30 casing.

When questioned, Andrews said he took medication for a mental health condition and said he felt an evil feeling coming from Barga-Milbury. On May 22, he said, he drove his vehicle to Barga-Milbury’s residence with a loaded .30-30, intending to kill his neighbor.

At the time, Barga-Milbury was home alone, her 15-year-old son at school.

When Barga-Milbury answered the door, he shot her in the abdomen, the document continued. After she fell to the floor, he cycled the weapon’s action and shot her a second time, this time in the head. Afterward, he went home and returned the weapon to a cabinet in his bedroom.

Prior to Andrews’ hearing Thursday, attorneys met with Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman and agreed that Andrews could remain out of public view — but within earshot of the judge — for his hearing. His attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, would not explain the unusual arrangement.

Multiple family members attended the defendant’s felony arraignment, including his mother, who lives with Andrews, his sister and an aunt who flew in from Montana, Funke-Bilu said.

“They’re tremendously supportive,” Funke-Bilu said after the hearing. “They’re a very close family.”

Funke-Bilu said he is still reviewing reports from the case but will explore Andrews’ mental health history.

“It’s still in the early stage,” he said.

Andrews was a longtime Atascadero resident, Funke-Bilu said, who lived a quiet life.

The day after the homicide, as police gathered evidence at the crime scene, Andrews was sitting outside his house watching the police when KCOY reporter Leah Masuda interviewed him as a neighbor of the victim. Andrews, who was not a suspect at the time, said the death was “sad” and that the person responsible for the killing had to be an “animalistic” person.

“I’m just at a loss of words right now,” he said. “I don’t know what to say.”

Andrews, who said he hadn’t heard any gunshots, said he had been neighbors with Barga-Milbury for over 20 years.

“We were friends for a short while,” he told KCOY. “We were mainly acquaintances, neighbors. … She was friendly, courteous, outgoing, active.”

By law, involuntarily committed patients considered a danger to themselves or others — known as 5150 patients — cannot own firearms for five years after their release from a hospital. Andrews, who was committed in 2009 as a 5150 patient, would not have been able to legally possess firearms. But his late father, a gunsmith who once owned a sporting goods store in Montana, had several registered firearms, according to the police report.

Andrews’ father, who died in August, was a former psychiatric technician at Atascadero State Hospital, where Barga-Milbury had worked in food services.

While investigating the 2009 case, police found a cache of weapons in Andrews’ home, including 10 daggers, seven swords, a spike-tipped hammer, a machete and a large battle axe. In that case, police were called after Andrews accused his neighbor of molesting him. The woman, who said Andrews had been watching the “Twilight” teen vampire movies, said Andrews had left small mounds of dirt or flour on her doorstep and had once beaten on her door, calling her a “bitch.”

The woman, fearful of Andrews, did not open the door.

When police attempted to take Andrews to the county’s mental health department in 2009, Andrews resisted, resulting in a misdemeanor charge.

He later pleaded no contest to resisting law enforcement. As part of his plea, he was given two years' probation and ordered to undergo mental health counseling.

Keep updated by adding Patrick S. Pemberton on Google+.

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